The Justice Department is winning funds from a second privatized military housing company in less than a month after pursuing companies for alleged fraud.
Hunt Companies agreed to settle its fraud case at Dover Air Force Base for $500,000, however, the business is not admitting fault.
Hunt is one of the largest privatized military housing providers in the nation.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware is committed to fighting for the wellbeing of our service members and their families, especially those stationed at Dover Air Force Base,” said U.S. Attorney David Weiss. “When companies put service members’ welfare at risk to maximize profit, they cheat the government as well as everyone who serves our country. We will not tolerate such disappointing conduct.”
Hunt was accused of allegedly falsifying documents between 2013 and 2019 in order to receive higher performance incentive payouts from the government.
Hunt received quarterly bonuses if it met certain objectives like maintaining residences and preparing homes for new tenants.
The allegations came to light after a whistleblower stepped forward.
“Hunt cooperated fully with Justice throughout the investigation, which started in January 2020,” Brenda Christman, a Hunt spokeswoman, told Federal News Network. “Under the terms of the civil resolution, Hunt agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve allegations regarding inaccurate work order data.”
Hunt Military Communities President Brian Stann said the company’s “main priority is serving our military families as well as our partners with honesty, integrity and transparency and we are pleased to have resolved this investigation and to start the New Year off with a renewed sense of passion and purpose for serving our residents.”
The resolution is perhaps less sweet for military service members, who have suffered under substandard living conditions from multiple companies for years, than Balfour Beatty Communities’ (BBC) guilty plea at the end of 2021.
BBC pleaded guilty to one count of major fraud worth $33.6 million in criminal fines and entered into a $31.8 million restitution civil settlement.
“Instead of promptly repairing housing for U.S. service members as required, BBC lied about the repairs to pocket millions of dollars in performance bonuses,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in a statement. “This pervasive fraud was a consequence of BBC’s broken corporate culture, which valued profit over the welfare of service members. Today’s global resolution sends a clear message to companies that if they do not maintain adequate compliance programs, voluntarily self-disclose misconduct, and fully cooperate with the government, they will pay a price that outweighs the profits they once reaped.”
Military housing advocates still see miles of work ahead.
Sarah Kline, founder and director of community outreach at Armed Forces Housing Advocates, recently told Federal News Network that military families are still struggling with unacceptable living conditions.
“Problems with military housing haven’t gone away, and in some instances it’s gotten worse or became long term,” said Sarah Kline, founder and director of community outreach at Armed Forces Housing Advocates (AFHA). “We still have families that discover these problems and have even had remediation completed to a degree where the housing company may say, or the installation or Garrison or Wing says, ‘the house is okay.’ And then, mold comes back.”